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Let it all out

Mini whiteboards offer an ideal way to start literacy sessions - quickfire syntactic gymnastics warm up the brain, with everyone immediately involved.

Some schools have discovered that a daily dose of spelling and sentence starters provides the drip, drip of repetition essential for learning.

A bank of spelling starters would include games such as Countdown or Finish (provide a word with letters omitted). Sentence games revolve around creating sentences out of several words (shark + jelly + because = The shark ate the jelly because it admired its wobble).

Insist on the capital letter and full stop: "Don't show me till you've double checked." Encourage them to police their answers. One of the key basics for writing is creativity. Creative starters include games such as "what if", which involves using the imagination and mapping possible outcomes rapidly ("What if sunlight could be caught? You could trap sun in a hot water bottle for cold nights").

Photos and art on the interactive whiteboard are effective (speedwrite words and images to describe this picture; what are the characters saying; give three reasons why pollution is wrong).

Finally, keep the games multi-sensory, brisk and relevant to the next part of the session, for basics liberate creativity Pie Corbett is a literacy consultant

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